The Art of Transitional Ministry

October 9, 2017 - October 13, 2017

The Art of Transitional Ministry

October 9 – 13, 2017
Princeton Theological Seminary

Erdman Center

Registration for the Art of Transitional Ministry is open.

Leading a congregation through transition is challenging and rewarding. Whether it is a change in leadership or a changing neighborhood, it takes knowledge, skill, and spiritual strength to navigate the waters of transition in a way that allows a congregation and its leaders to thrive. The Art of Transitional Ministry offers training in the skills and understanding necessary for leading a congregation in transition. There are two week-long courses of study. Both weeks are being offered concurrently.

Week One is the basic education course for pastors and congregational leaders who are serving or are considering serving in congregations that are in the midst of transition.  This intensive 30-hour course provides basic understandings for consciously leading congregations through changes in context, identity, and leadership.   The week one training is appropriate for any temporary transitional ministry leaders, including interim and designated pastors, as well as installed pastors serving congregations in the midst of change.

Week Two is for pastors and leaders serving in congregations in the midst of transitions in leadership, culture, context, and ministry.   Participants will use their current ministry situations to reflect on the leader’s role and tasks in times of transition.  Completion of Week One and current service in a transitional or interim ministry position is required for participation in this course.




Shelaine Bird (Birmingham, AL) has lived and worked in the Southeast, Southwest and upper Midwest, witnessing the Church grapple with challenges and new freedoms that comes with Change. After earning a BA in Psychology and Christian Education from Presbyterian College and M.Div from Columbia Seminary, she was ordained a Teacher Elder in 2003. Though her first Interim work was in 2011, she has been in transitional ministry most of her career. If God is at work re-forming the church the question before us is: How will we respond? Will we be a people of fear or a people of hope? Let’s choose Hope. Shelaine is Mom to two amazing kids who keep her grounded, make her laugh, and show her that God is not done with us yet.

Stu Ritter (Rev. Walter Stuart Ritter) is a second career pastor who has practiced transitional ministry since his ordination in 1999. A graduate of Cornell University (BA), UNC Chapel Hill (MA) and San Francisco Theological Seminary (MDiv), Stu has also studied law and worked as a city planner, nonprofit administrator and consultant in fundraising and organizational development. In his “spare time,” he has taught social research methodology and leadership development at the University of New Hampshire, the University of Judaism (Los Angeles), and his alma mater (Cornell), in addition to leading interdisciplinary seminars in the Department of Government at Dartmouth. Stu has provided transitional leadership for congregations of 275 to 1500 members in eight presbyteries, discovering a unique set of challenges and opportunities in each setting. His “interims” have ranged from 11 to 28 months, and as of 2015 every subsequent installed pastor remains in place.

Libby Rollins (Virginia Beach, VA) has been involved in Interim Ministry for 15 years, serving 7 congregations of various sizes, settings, and needs. She joined the teaching team eight years ago and has taught Weeks I and II at a number of sites.

Julie Donohue Thompson

Julie Donohue Thompson has served churches in the northern and southern U.S., both large and small, in cities, small towns and suburbs. She graduated from Miami University (OH) and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, with some coursework completed at New York Theological Seminary in Manhattan. She has served in transitional ministry roles as an associate pastor and solo pastor and loves the challenge of guiding congregations through times of change. She is married and has three children one in college, one in high school and one in middle school who remind her of the transitional nature of life.

Barry Williams (Norman, OK) has roots in Southwest Louisiana where he grew up learning a bit about Cajun culture and cooking. He attended Centenary College in Shreveport, La., earning a B.S. degree in Business, then seminary in Austin, Texas and went on to serve churches in the suburbs of Houston, Dallas, and Ft. Worth before moving to work with a congregation in Salina, Kansas. In 1996, the Williams family (Brenda, his wife, and two sons, Stephen and Peter) moved to Southwest Missouri. Springfield has functioned as “home base” for Barry as he served as an Interim/Transitional Pastor in the region. He started his 13th interim in July 2015 with FPC in Norman, Oklahoma. He has been part of the PCUSA interim ministry education faculty since 2000. His interests include fly fishing, cooking, and staying in contact with family, friends, and colleagues.



Registration and Fee

Registration and Fee
Week I:   The cost is $455 and includes program and meals (3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners) and daily coffee breaks.
Week II:   The cost is $455 and includes program and meals (3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners) and daily coffee breaks.
Please read the registration and cancellation policy before registering.